Defense Spending by Country

Defense Spending

The fifteen countries with the largest annual military budgets. See table below for actual dollar amounts.

This information is outdated. See this post for the latest in military spending.

Defense Spending In The Billions

The chart above shows the fifteen nations with the greatest annual military spending. The United States, with a budget of $535.9 billion annually, spends more on defense than the next fourteen nations combined. One wonders if all that spending by the United States is really necessary, considering that the U.S. military budget is more than four times that of the next largest spender, China, at $121.9 billion. If America’s NATO allies are included just from the chart above (which is not all of NATO), that adds another $207.2 billion in defense spending. Those countries are the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, and Spain.

Defense Spending By GDP

When spending is considered by percent of gross domestic product (GDP), the United States at 4.1% falls to eighth place. Saudi Arabia (10.0%), Russia (9.9%), and Israel (7.3%) take over first, second, and third place respectively.

Table Of Annual Defense Spending By Country

Click ONCE on column headers to sort.

Rank Country $Billion %GDP
1 United States 535.9 4.1
2 China 121.9 4.3
3 Russia 70.0 9.9
4 United Kingdom 55.4 2.4
5 France 54.0 2.6
6 Japan 41.1 0.8
7 Germany 37.8 1.5
8 Italy 30.6 1.8
9 Saudi Arabia 29.5 10.0
10 South Korea 24.6 2.7
11 India 22.4 2.5
12 Australia 17.2 2.4
13 Brazil 16.2 2.6
14 Canada 15.0 1.1
15 Spain 14.4 1.2
16 Turkey 11.6 5.3
17 Israel 11.0 7.3
18 Netherlands 9.9 1.6
19 United Arab Emirates 9.5 3.1
20 Indonesia 8.4 3.0
21 Taiwan 7.7 2.2
22 Greece 7.3 4.3
23 Iran 7.2 2.5
24 Myanmar (Burma) 6.9 2.1
25 Singapore 6.3 4.9
26 Poland 6.2 1.7
27 Ukraine 6.0 1.4
28 Sweden 5.8 1.5
29 Colombia 5.4 3.4
30 Norway 5.0 1.9


  • The Economist, “…and Wars”. Pocket World in Figures 2009 Edition. Profile Books. Dollar amounts are for 2006, except Indonesia which is for 2005.
  • The CIA World Factbook, listing spending on defense programs for the most recent year available as a percent of gross domestic product (GDP); the GDP is calculated on an exchange rate basis, i.e., not in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP).

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  1. Its no surprise that the US are top of the list, but why do they need so much defense? what are they planning? WW3?

  2. Wow! That is a really revealing table. I wonder how long it will be before Obama trys to cut the budget on that

  3. Im surprised to see the UK at No. 4. I thought we would be higher than that

  4. I expect that they are planning for World War III. Not to start it but to win it.

    The defense budget is targeted by Congress to be cut, for example, the F-22. Recently Congressman Rob Bishop (I live in his district) apparently saved F-22 production by 1 vote. Hill Air Force Base is Utah’s biggest employer (which is where I work). Even so I think there is room for cuts. However, Congress needs to be cutting the overall budget and pass a balanced budget amendment. Here in Utah we have a mandated balanced budget and it is balanced every year, even this year where there was a $1 billion shortfall.

  5. Indeed, the U.K. at 2.4% of GDP ranks even lower, at 17th. Of course the U.K. doesn’t go around the world picking fights as much as the U.S. does.

  6. Imagine if each of these countries spent 50percent of their defense spends on health and education….

  7. Trey,
    You are not the only one thinking that way. The combined military budgets of the 30 countries in the table is over $3.5 trillion. Half that is $1.75 trillion.

  8. It seems worth it to me at only 4.1% of GDP. I sleep better at night.

    In the United States, most of the expenditures for Iraq and Afghanistan wars are not included in this number. See:

  9. Jake,
    Yes, you are right, the numbers do not include the major cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One hopes that these costs do not continue for much longer. Considering that the Democrats complained so loudly about the wars it is curious that they have done nothing significant about them in the last three years.

  10. George OC w PZU says

    I’m not surprised to see the United States as the leader of the chart following China, which has the second largest economy in the world and Russia. The amount of money that is spend on defense is unimaginable. Just think of what could be done with all this billions.

  11. George,
    What surprised me the most was by how much more the U.S. spent than the next nation. Over four times as much!

  12. Maybe it costs more to employ people here.

  13. Jill,
    I expect it would cost more in the U.S. than say in India or China. The weaponry is probably more expensive also.


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